Augill Castle

Cumbria, Northern England, United Kingdom Book from £170

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Heaven in the tranquil Eden Valley - luxury Victorian castle B&B in remote Cumbria
Take two feuding brothers, add in a small fortune, stir vigorously, allow to simmer and hey presto! - you get a folly castle. Augill was built in 1841 by John Bagot Pearson in a bid to outdo his younger sibling. He succeeded in some style, commissioning the castle as a weekend haunt in which to entertain his friends. It is a triumph of vanity over common sense: turrets, mullioned windows, castellated towers, wonderfully ornate lattice windows - the usual castle fare. It is also a trompe-l’œil of sorts: the house is mostly one room deep.

A longish gravel drive leads up from the lane. Lawns and sheep-filled meadows encircle you, beyond the Pennines rise majestically. Inside you find enormous rooms, creaking floorboards, vibrant colours and an easy-going house-party feel. The music room has an open fire, red leather armchairs, several sofas and a grand piano. The décor is ‘country house’, reassuringly traditional, but without the chintz.

Highs

  • An impressive folly castle with imperious countryside all around
  • Great for families, with lots of large rooms and handy baby equipment
  • A relaxed, easy-going feel - Wendy and Simon make you feel like you're being hosted by friends
  • Spoiling bedrooms and good home-cooked fare
  • Some of Britain's most unspoilt walking; the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast footpaths pass close by

Lows

  • Couples wanting a grown-up break may want to avoid booking during the school holidays
  • Be sure to give a few hours' warning if you'd like afternoon tea
  • It's not cheap and the extras can soon add up
  • WiFi and phone signal can be a little patchy, but you're here for a getaway!

Best time to go

Any time of year is good here - enjoy crackling fires and bracing walks in winter, views and strolls in the gardens in summer. The lakes and fells are always stunning. If you want to avoid the traffic, give the summer school holidays a miss.

Our top tips

If you (or the kids) need some downtime or want to while away a rainy day, settle down with a film and some popcorn in the cosy 12-seat cinema.

Great for...

Family
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 12
  • Breakfast (+ dinner on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Tennis Court
Room:

Rooms

Augill Castle’s rooms range from romantic doubles to self-contained cottages, converted from the old gatehouse and stables. Wherever you stay, expect thick swathes of curtain, old armoires, four-posters dressed in crisp linen, vintage luggage and the odd wall hanging. Don’t expect lots of chintz. Instead, you might find an Indonesian blow pipe, an old gramophone player or a wardrobe in a turret.


Those in the main castle are the most traditional: we stayed in Appleby, a large room with rich red walls at the end of the long corridor. It has creaky wooden steps down to a big bathroom with a four-poster tub (!) and a brilliant rainshower. We also loved the claw-foot tub in Derwent & Raisebeck

The old Orangery rooms offer huge arched windows; Greystoke’s pretty doorway is enchanting.

The converted outhouses are more modern, and have added privacy. We felt the Little Castle Estate House and The Stable House Estate House would be particularly great for families - you get your own front door, a little front garden and a simple galley kitchen.

Bathrooms sparkle and little extras include homemade biscuits, a decanter of ginger wine and a miniature bottle of whiskey from the Lakes Distillery. Wonderful.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • Wifi internet

Eating

The dining room at Augill is one of the highlights, an enormous, Baronial chamber with a plaster ribbed ceiling in blue and gold. Guests can choose to sit at the large communal oak dining table or at a private table in the Conservatory or Drawing Room.

Inspired by ingredients sourced locally to the castle, an evening ‘Four Counties’ house menu is served daily. We sampled mains including a delightfully spicy sweet potato, Yorkshire feta and pine nut parcel, and a tender beef slow cooked in ale with mash, asparagus and green beans. Heaven knows how we made space for the decadent melting chocolate pudding with clotted cream.

Afterwards, we relaxed at the castle’s Great British Bar (in the Conservatory), which only stocks drinks from independent British producers. Simon and Wendy will happily recommend something for you based on your tastes - maybe a cocktail or two. We enjoyed a delicious Lemon Bon Bon made with toffee vodka.

In the morning, our breakfast took a good hour to devour: fruit and porridge, freshly-squeezed orange juice, homemade breads and croissants, Cumberland bacon, Augill Eggs Florentine and Cumbrian Rarebit.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Communal dining
  • Dinner by arrangement
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the Northumbrian National Park are all on your doorstep; Hadrian’s Wall is also close
  • The Pennines lie behind you, so follow ancient footpaths and walk your socks off
  • Alternatively, stay at the castle and play croquet on the lawn or tennis at the back
  • Afternoon teas are available daily, and are particularly tempting when taken in the garden during summer
  • Catch a movie in the 12-seat cinema - you can buy popcorn, too!

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Tennis

Kids

Augill Castle extends a warm welcome to younger guests with a friendly teddy bear on their bed on arrival, and a library filled with books, toys and a bulging dressing up box. And what could be more exciting for any child than staying in a real castle?!

Your're also well placed for outdoorsy activities in the Lake District, whether that's learning to sail like Swallows and Amazons or trying out the newer attractions like the Via Ferrata at Honister Slate Mine.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

So many options. The Orangery Family Suite sleeps up to 4; The Stable House Estate House and Little Castle Estate House offer more privacy and separate bedrooms for parents and kids. Interconnecting Derwent & Raisebeck are good option for families with older children. Book the whole place out for a big family gathering!

Baby listening:

Baby monitor available.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chairs
  • Nappy disposal unit
  • Disposable changing mats
  • Nappy cream and talcum powder
  • Baby bubble bath

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Very flexible when it comes to eating - the 'Four Counties' menu includes children's dishes, afternoon tea and crowd-pleasing suppers. At breakfast, the delicious banana and chocolate chip muffins were a big hit with our baby son. Plastic bowls, plates, cups and toddler cutlery are provided when you order something for your child.


There is also a small galley kitchen in the main building with a fridge, microwave, kettle and 2 hobs. This was brilliant for us as we could store and heat up milk for bedtime and it would be perfect making very very simple snacks - handy if you have early risers who can't wait until breakfast.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Teddy bear on bed
  • Den, playground and games room
  • Trampoline
  • Tennis court
  • Toys for all ages
  • Children's books and DVDs
  • Castle to explore
  • Resident animals: hens, dogs
  • Dressing up clothes
  • Mini beast safaris

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Hiking and mountaineering
  • Lake District fun: kayaking, swimming and sailing
  • Via Ferrata at Honister Slate Mine
  • Go Ape

Families Should Know:

Plenty of antiques to mind and staircases that aren't gated; this is a unique old house and hasn't been 'health and safety'd' to death, perish the thought.

Distances:

  • Airport: 2 hours
  • Doctor: 15 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
10/
Overall

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